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The Missing Village

We are building a Village. When first Zafer Estill, and then my husband, Chris Lucash, died almost a year ago, we entered the Realm of Crisis, and a village was born in the wake of their dying, home funerals, and burials in our shared woods. There was a great togetherness, and a tending, and a learning and a deep grieving, such as I’ve never known before. Out of the ashes left by those flames, we build.

“In the village, people used to build their houses using no iron or lumber or nails, but the houses were magnificent. Many were sewn together out of bark and fiber. Like the house of the body, the house that a person sleeps in must be very beautiful and sturdy, but not so sturdy that it won’t fall apart after a while. If your house doesn’t fall apart, then there will be no reason to renew it. And it is this renewability that makes something valuable. Its maintenance gives it meaning.

The secret of village togetherness and happiness has always been the generosity of the people, but the key to that generosity has been expressed in tending to inefficiency and decay. Because our village huts were not built to last very long, they had to be regularly renewed. To do this, villagers came together, throughout the year, to work on somebody’s hut. When your house was falling down, you invited all the folks over. The little kids ran around messing up what everybody was doing. The young women brought the water. The young men carried the stones. The older men told everybody what to do, and the older women told the older men that they weren’t doing it right. Once the house was back together again, everyone ate together, praised the house, laughed, and cried. In a few days, they moved on to the next house. In this way, each family’s place in the village was reestablished and remembered. This is how it always was.

Then the missionaries and the businessmen and the politicians brought in tin and lumber and sturdy houses. Now the houses last, but the relationships don’t.

In some ways, crises bring communities together.…Mayans don’t wait for a crisis to occur; they make a crisis. Their spirituality is based on choreographed crises — otherwise known as rituals — in which everyone has to work together to remake their clothing, or each other’s houses, or the community, or even the world. Everything has to be maintained because it was originally made so delicately that it eventually falls apart. It is the putting back together again – the renewing – that ultimately makes something strong. That is true of our houses, our language, our relationships.

It’s a fine balance, making something that is not so flimsy that it falls apart too soon, yet not so solid that it is permanent. It requires a sort of grace. We all want to make something that’s going to live beyond us, but that thing shouldn’t be a house, or some other physical object. It should be a village that can continue to maintain itself. That sort of constant renewal is the only permanence we humans should wish to attain.” (Martin Prechtel, interviewed by Derrick Jensen.)

“There is something to notice about our time. This time where we are individuals, living out our individual lives in solid houses that don’t require village togetherness or renewal. There have never been more humans in the world, and humans have touched every corner of this planet and yet we have never been more lonely.

What if there’s nothing missing in you? What if there’s a missing village for you to be in?

What if there’s nothing missing in you? What if there’s a missing larger story for you to be in?

And what if what’s missing is not only what is being approached – but a more beautiful way to approach it?

We struggle from the absence of our village and then we blame our symptoms on what we believe is our own lack…thereby ensuring the village we need can never appear.” (Tad Hargrave)

The individualism that manifests as self-blame — that feeling of not being enough, for ourselves or anyone, better off alone, beating ourselves up along the way.

“We internalize our problems and feel like we’re failing for not being the whole village for ourselves and others. But, what if we looked at all of our troubles – and the troubles of others – as yet one more chance for the village to reconstitute itself again? What if each of our lonely struggles wasn’t in the way of redemption, but the doorway towards it?

What if the key was our willingness to admit that it’s all been too much for us alone?

These words are a plea for village-making as both the needed medicine and the process by which that medicine might appear. Village-making might be both the flower that grows from the garden, and the work we do to tend the soil that allowed it to appear in the first place.” (Tad Hargrave)

All over the globe, villages – small, hyperlocal economies built on mutual reciprocity, trust and cooperation – are dying. Falling left and right to the might of global expansionism, control and domination of nature, and resource extraction – human and otherwise. Many awakening people in modern society are recognizing that our future lies in the protection of these villages, and the renewal and maintenance of new ones. New economies grown on micro-enterprise born of the work of our hands, tended soils, healthy land and people sharing vision, work and story. 

The repair work is mandatory. And all are needed.

The above writing was read aloud at the first ‘Vision & Dream’ Meeting of the newborn & growing ‘Village at the Bend’ in Moncure, NC. We met as a collective standing at the precipice of dreaming this new world into life. The Village at the Bend is home to a growing number of friends and ideological-kin and a number of launching micro-enterprises including Sparkroot Farm, The Bower Air B&B, a Market and Teaching Farm, a Family School, a Maker Space, Organics and Sounds, Healing Arts, Massage Therapists, Zortacular Builders, Branches Ecological Landscapes (permaculture design), Glass and Tile Artists & Stone Mason, Chefs, Artists, Authors, Musicians and a Green Burial Cemetery including Home Funeral Services

This writing is a combination of the interviews and writings of Martin Prechtel and blogger and Orphan Wisdom School Scholar Tad Hargrave (of marketingforhippies.com), with some additions by me just to make the combined works fit the purposes to meet the objective of our first meeting – read to the group as an inspirational piece to draw us to focus. 

Find the brilliant, in-depth, ORIGINAL & complete writing of Tad Hargrave here: 
On Village Making: The Means and Ends of Our Personal and Collective Redemption

About ALISA ESPOSITO, blog author, compiler, editor
Founder and Director, Sparkroot Farm
Creative Force, Abundance NC & Blog Editor
Villager, at the Village at the Bend
Scholar, Orphan Wisdom School

Alisa enjoys getting to the root & finding solutions to the troubled times were in. Permaculture and village making are missions she focuses on to heal the destruction of the mainstream consumer empire. Alisa grew up marinated in Chicagoland consumer culture, and from 1999 – 2015, she lived “on the literal edge of nowhere” in the swamps of rural eastern NC, while her late husband worked on endangered red wolf restoration. Despite and because of such insurmountable pain as her husband’s recent death of ALS, she’s overjoyed to be living amongst the most amazing community she’s ever experienced – growing a farm and teaching house, milking goats, making cheese and soap, forging a life, sharing the vision and the work of creating Abundance, and has at long last found Home.


At Abundance we bring people together to cultivate and celebrate community resilience in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Learn more about us and what we do.


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“…We have barely disembarked into life…we’ve only just now been born, let’s not fill our mouths with so many uncertain names, with so many sad labels, with so many pompous letters, with so much yours and mine, with so much signing of papers. I intend to confuse things, to unite them, make them new-born intermingle them, undress them, until the light of the world has the unity of the ocean, a generous wholeness, a fragrance alive and crackling.”
― Pablo Neruda